Must-Know Tips For Your First Dusi

Jacques Theron paddling 56

Jacques Theron puts the hammer down at the Breede River Canoe Marathon. Photo: John Hishin / Gameplan Media

Dusi may have come and gone for 2013 but for those of you doing the race in 2014, 12-time Dusi paddler Jacques Theron has some sage advice for the novices.

The Dusi is not just a canoe marathon, it’s also a running race. Due to all the portaging you cannot neglect your running when training. Practice running with and without your boat.

Listen to your body during the early stages of your training. Don’t overdo it too early, especially if you have not kept the running up all season or you’re new to running.

Running with the boat makes your heart rate shoot up. Make sure you train for this intensity with intervals at a fast pace. On race day be conservative and hold back on the uphill runs to make sure you last to the end of the day. Don’t hold back down the hills but do beware of rocks and roots out of view; remember you’re carrying a boat!

Make sure you are comfortable with your entire Dusi boat setup. That’s on the water and off. Train with your shoes on while paddling (remember to wear low-profile shoes) and get your seating position spot-on. You also need to be able to reach your hydration pack hose or water bottle tube easily while still maintaining power on the paddle.

Get comfortable running with your boat. Use plaster to tape up your shoulders especially in the early training sessions. Shoulder pads or rugby shoulder support vests are good options. You don’t want to get cuts or sores from all the friction. Change the shoulder on which you carry the boat often to even out both sides.

When you get out for a portage it is very important that you do it quickly, efficiently and safely. Make sure you know exactly what to do with your paddle and that it’s not going to fall out of the boat while you’re running.

Super seconds are a must if you want to race right up at the front. This is however not so important if you just want to have a steady race. The organisation of the Dusi is superb and there are more than enough water and support stations along the way – make good use of these.

Remember to enjoy the race. The paddling and running takes you through an amazing part of our country. The rapids are challenging and the hills are mad. To finish a Dusi is an amazing achievement.

Originally published in the November/December 2012 issue.

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